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Common Time 2019

Cloisters

 Cloister garth: looking north toward the Chapel

On the 13th July 1395 Simon, Bishop of Achonry in Ireland consecrated the chapel, the cemetery and the cloisters. They enclose an area of approximately a hundred square feet and are a fine example of Perpendicular architecture. The interior is of open English oak woodwork and is barrel-vaulted; the exterior is covered with Purbeck slate. Today they enclose Fromond's Chantry thus giving the impression that Cloisters and Chantry were built as a unit. Such is not the case (Fromond's Chantry was some fifty years later), but does not in any way diminish the unity of the two buildings.

Many distinguished Old Wykehamists have been buried in the cloisters or had memorial inscriptions added subsequently. Additionally, many memorials to young Wykehamists who died either while at College or soon after can be found. The young had too little time to become distinguished so it is rather poignant that they are now memorialised in their school with, in some cases, highly affecting accompanying language. Not all the memorials are on the walls - there are many set into the floor and it is worth keeping an eye out for these when visiting.

But the cloisters were not just for the dead. The stone bench running around the inside suggests that they were used for study and it certainly was the practice in later years to have lessons outside in the cloisters during the warmer weeks - thus the designation of Cloister Time to the summer term. A look at the stonework in and outside the cloisters reveals inscriptions of the names of pupils presumably carved by the pupils themselves in free time. On the bench that runs along the southern side it is possible to see a few examples of a symmetrical grid of nine holes where some kind of mediaeval noughts and crosses was played.

In the middle of the east side there is a small opening in the upper half of a door which looks out into the Warden's garden. At certain times of the year this door is opened and it is possible to enter the garden by crossing the bridge.